roland vp9000

It is quite difficult to include the VP-9000 in any of the current categories of products, being an innovative device in the stand-alone digital instruments area.

Undoubtely, it provides some features previously offered only by computer-dedicated softwares. At the same time, additional advantages are available: fast operativity, intuitive user interface, real-time control and easy carriage.

The VP-9000 cannot be considered just as a sampling-based audio processor. In fact, it overcomes many problems that conventional samplers have in handling audio phrases.

Usually, working with a sampler, two operations should be done:
- multisampling, to have an homogeneous timbre across the keyboard
- time-stretching, to increase/decrease the sample lenght (let's say a musical phrase) to keep the required playback speed.

These operations always require a lot of memory and are time-consuming in terms of programming, to the detriment of the possible live real-time use.

A single sample can be processed by the VP-9000 to be played back across a wide range of keys in real-time retaining the original tone, envelope and tempo. On the other hand, it is also possible to change the sample playback speed without changing the Pitch or to change the Pitch without changing the Tempo.

So, under a certain point of view, the VP-9000 it's a world a part.

Technical Details
V-Producer Overview


The VP-9000 is a stand-alone system that allows to change sample's Pitch, Time, Formant and Groove in real-time.
Basically, it's a musical instrument that is a computer in disguise.
Due to this, it combines power and flexibility with user-fliendly operativity and easy carriage.
Here below, some technical details are listed:

Polyphony and multitimbral capability.
The VP-9000 can hold only one Performance in its internal memory. A Performance can also be automatically loaded when the power of the unit is turned on.
A Performance includes 6 Parts. Some parameters have a single setting for the whole Performance, while others can be set independently for each Part.
One of the most important is the Keyboard Map, that sets the state of the control keyboard for each Part.

Three modes are available:
-Normal: the sample assigned to each Part can be played at the pitch of each key.
-Event: the sample is divided into the component "events", each one assigned to a different key ("Events" are locations wirhin a sample - i.e.: a musical phrase - automatically detected and marked where there is a strong attack during the encoding process).
-Phrase Map: up to 12 samples can be assigned to different keys of a Part, setting an independent level, pan and tuning for each one.

In any case, the VP-9000 can always produce a maximum of 6 notes (voices) simultaneously. Maybe, this is the only limit that can be currently pointed out, expecially if the unit is used to reproduce some musical instruments (i.e.: piano) instead of being considered as a controller/processor of recorded phrases.


Internal memory and data management.
The VP-9000 features an 8 Mb internal RAM that can be expanded up to 136 Mb installing optional SIMMs (4 slot x 32 Mb SIMM). With 8 Mb of internal wave memory, the unit provides 25 seconds of stereo sampling or 50 seconds of monoaural sampling @ 44.1 kHz sampling frequency.
Being a sampling-based device, the memory available onboard by default could be considered insufficient. Nevertheless, it should not be forgotten that multisampling is not required.
A single sample can be assigned to a wide range of keys. Referring to the mass storage, the built-in Zip driver (250 Mb disks) allows an easy data saving/loading. 100 Mb disks can also be used.
No problems have been pointed out except for an increased saving/loading time. Moreover, the WAV and AIFF format compatibility provides an useful computer interaction, allowing an useful audio samples sharing.
At last, two SCSI ports are built-in providing a wide range of possibilities in terms of data backup external units connection.


User interface.
This is one of the most agreeable features of the system. The graphic display user's interface is based on easy-to-understand icons, that avoid the necessity of written messages.
This is very helpful in performing the operativity procedures.


Samples Editing and VariPhrase Encoding.
The VP9000 provides a wide range of sample's editing functions.
In SAMPLE mode it is possible to change the original Tempo and the Pitch of the sample. It is also possible to change its name and to assign it to an instrumental category (38 available), for a quick selection. The sample can be played both monophonically and polyphonically.
Moreover, the SAMPLE mode allows to choose different playing modes (Retrigger, Time sync, Legato or Step) and to switch on/off the Loop, Trigger Quantize and Robot Voice functions.
Basically, the "hearth" of the VP-9000 is the ENCODE function that process the samples with a sort of "elastic" audio data management. It's really astonishing to check the sample quality and timbre (after encoding), by changing the pitch or the playback speed with the VariPhrase knobs.
This is much more evident when the sample is played by MIDI keyboard. The "chipmunk" effect desappears.
Very interesting is also the possibility to easily synchronize samples with different Pitch and Tempo.


Effect section and Output management.
A Multi-effects section (providing 40 different algorithms), a Chorus (8 types) and a Reverb (9 types) are built-in (24-bit processor). A wide range of sound processing possibilities are also provided.
The built-in Multieffect, in fact, includes some COSM technology algorithms (Guitar Amp simulator, Space Chorus, Analog flanger, etc.). At last, the VP-9000 is equipped with 3 independent Stereo outputs.


The VP-9000's structure is quite easy to understand allowing an immediate operativity.

Samples can be played in the Performance mode. A Performance includes 6 Parts. Each Part can be assigned to a specific range of keys. A Part can include up to 12 Phrases (samples).

With reference to the Outputs, a specific display page allows to assign the Parts to each Stereo pair (Main, Direct 1, Direct 2).

  There's no doubt that the VP-9000 is a breakthrough in the hardware sampling-based units category. It's something new like the first sampler has been in the early '80s.

The VP9000 is in fact a possible evolution of the original sampler, offering a lot of new interesting features. Anyway, the innovation provided by this device should be deeply analyzed.

Currently, in fact, the question to point out is how to use proficiently the VP-9000 for studio and/or live applications. The sure thing is that the VP-9000 features can inspire new ways to use sampling technology and, from this point of view, the quality/price ratio can be considered convenient.

Finally, something about the learning support: the VP-9000 is provided with a User Guide and a Zip Demo disk that are both very useful to understand the basic feataures of the unit.